As parents, one thing we’re painfully aware of is that there’s no blueprint for how to raise a kid. There’s not a step-by-step guide to raising the perfect child or being the perfect parent. Sometimes we’re left questioning how we’re doing and if we have any blind spots. Many of the parents I’ve spoken with – moms and dads alike – have a genuine drive to do their best. But how can we improve?
There are a million books on parenting, videos, blog posts (I get the irony here), and limitless unsolicited information. If you’re like me, you don’t seek out “help” until you’re facing a particular issue (picky eating, discipline, etc). In fact, maybe it’s the very concept of wanting help that makes us feel like we must suck at this whole parenting thing. Especially us dads – if we sought out parenting help that must mean we’re a terrible failure.
But, what if it wasn’t about operating from a deficit of parenting ability? What if wanting to level up your dad skills didn’t mean you were a garbage father to start with? What if all it meant was that you gained perspective, looked at fatherhood through another lens, and felt more confident in the path you were taking?
Best in Class
I was intrigued when I learned about free parenting classes being offered by The Children’s Cabinet here in Reno. At first, I paid them no mind – I’m not perfect, but I’m certainly not so bad at fatherhood that I need a class to learn how to do it. However, as I took a closer look, I discovered that it wasn’t as though these classes were introductory – they weren’t exactly going to introduce me to what a child was and how to keep it clean. These classes were built for parents that are already awesome and want to operate at the top of their game. What’s more, they’re really focused on different phases of parenting.
Which Best Describes You?
The Children’s Cabinet offers four classes in its “Neighborhood” series:
- The Neighborhood Series: First Five Years – Focusing on birth to five years old and teaching parents how to deal with irrational, tantrum-throwing, maniacs (that’s my interpretation, not the official course description). Parents that are able to set reasonable and consistent boundaries in the first few years set up their child for success as they transition into school age. The course also covers ways to best connect with your child at their different age stages.
- The Neighborhood Series: Active Parenting (kids ages 5-12) – As our kids enter school age, we parents shift our focus from simply keeping them alive to deciphering Common Core math homework, helping kids deal with social pressure, and figuring out how to win the many many debates our kids want to now engage in. This class not only helps with all of the above, but again setting and managing healthy boundaries with kids in this age range.
- The Neighborhood Series: Parenting Teens – Don’t you dare lie to me and tell me you understand how to parent a teenager. Nobody does! This class helps parents navigate the confusing world of teens, with focus on respectful discipline, communication skills, screen boundaries, and helping to prevent risky behaviors.
- The Neighborhood Series: Cooperative Parenting and Divorce – Experiencing divorce or separation is difficult enough on parents. One of the last things we want is for our children to be negatively impacted. This class provides guidance and best practices for co-parenting, talking with your kids about divorce, conflict resolution, and generally how to navigate parenting in this new environment.
Coming to a Neighborhood Near You
The Children’s Cabinet offers free parenting classes of all kinds year-round at its facility off of Rock Blvd, but these classes, dubbed the “Neighborhood Series,” were intended to alleviate the barrier of travel if you’re not located near their main office. After all, our schedule as a parent is busy enough without taking the time to drive across town. Most of these classes are scheduled for 2 hours and typically begin around 6pm. As you look through the class schedule, make sure to look for a class being offered in a neighborhood nearby – and continue to check in because The Children’s Cabinet is looking for opportunities to expand into various neighborhoods around town (although you’re welcome to attend classes in any of the neighborhoods). As a bonus, you’re also likely to meet other parents that have children in the same schools and that live in the same neighborhood as you.
Never Stop Improving
I hope you’re able to find an opportunity to take one of these free classes. They’re really an amazing resource for parents that would like to level up from good to great. Again, it doesn’t mean your parenting approach is wrong, broken, or in need of help. It simply means you love your kids enough to give them the best dad you can be.